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CHAPTER 5

fE ntimacy and con-imunicarion are inexfficably connected.


I Uhen u,e speali of communicadon, \ re rnean more than just
E ,frc abiiiryo dir.us probiems and resolve conflicts. We
mear-l communication

each

for its

or.r,n sake;

dre pleasure

of bei:rg in

othert cornpanl/, the excitenient of convers?ttion,

the

exchange of touches and smiles, dre loving silences, Thr.ough

communicatron we disclose who we are, and from this self-disclosure, intimacv grows,

Onc of ihe most conrllon complaints of rnarrjed par:tner:s)

3
ica

1.1

111111

ils i44
11

tlon`
l

esuecially unhappv partners, is "\4,'e don't communicate." But

it

is

impossible not to comrrunicate-a cold look mal,comrnunicate


anger as effecdvelv as a fierce outbursr ofrvords. 14{hat tl'rese u:rhappy
parmers mean by "lrot corununicating" rs that

fieir commu:rication

drjves drem apart radrer tiran bnnging them togerJrer, feeds con-

:lil

:
Q

1
l
Dihng wi _Angel 159

Conlict Resolut10n aid r Iarital SatlsLcuOn 160

FIghdng abOut Sex ttd MOnc),161

Surnmary 166

associated

COnlictlResolution 159

Rosol ng Conlicts 163

flict radrer than resolvug it, Conimunicatron patterns are str-ongly

vidr marital sarisiicrion (Noller and Fitzparrick. 1991).

in this chapter we explore how communicatron brings pe,rple together: how to de,velo1r comrrunicarion skiils, hou,to selfrlisclose, horv to eive feedback and a1firm your parrner. We also
thscuss the reiadonship benveen conflict rnd inumacy, e>rploring

the qpes of conflicr and the role of porver: itr rnarital reladon.
ships. \d/e looli at

coirllloll ccnflicls aboui

sex and inorre1,. Finaliy,

lve explore sorne wa\/s of resolving conflict.s.

alld r arriage
There

has been an explosion of research on premariial and mar-

ital communicauon in dre last decade, Researchers are finding


sig"nificant correiations bervyeen dre nature of communication and
sausfacdon, as well as finding diff'erences in male \rersus ferna]e
cc,mmunicarion patterns in marriaqe.

Prenrariral C,ommunicati on Patrc:rirs


an d Marital S a tisfa ctir:rr
"Drop

you creepl" is hardlv the rvay to resolve a disagreement alnong daring couples. But it may be an iurportanr cl,.re as
to whetl-rer you and vour pertner should marry. I4an1, 66upl.t
who communicate poorly before marriage are likely to conrinue
rJead,

the sanre way after marriage, and dre result can be disastrous for their marriages.
Researchers have found that hov, well a couple commuicates before marriage can
be an important predictor of later marital sadsfaction (Cate and Lloyd, i992;

Il/henruu'

fecling

is uoicd

uitlt tnrtl:

andfi'anknes . . , am.ysterilu.s and.fnrreachin.g int'luence is cxerted. At

frst it

Fiisinger and Thoma, 1988). If communication is poor before marriage, it is not


likely to get significantly better after marriage-at least not u'ithout a good deal

ans on those uho are inwnrdly receptiue,

of effort and help.

lnrw.r. . . . The

reveladon of deeply personal information a bout on e's


self-prior ro 01'sool1 after marriag'e is related to relationship satisfacdon later. In
one study (Surra, l*i'zzi,and Asmussen, 1988), men and women were interviewed

&lI-discloiuie-the

Bu,t thc circle g'ows larger and

of saruething

ffict

tltnt

is but the rcflca.ion

enxd,txntes

f'07n.

lne\

own henrl.

I CrlNc

shortly after marriage and four years later. The researchers found that selfdisclosure was an important factor lbr increasing each otirer's conrnitrnent later.
Glking about your deepest feelings, revealing yourself to vour partner, builds
bonds of rrust that help cement a marriage.

vl4-rether a couple's interactions are basical\' negative or positive can also


predict later tnarital satisfaction. In a notable experirnent by-lohn Markham (1979),

premarital couples were evaluated using "table talli," sitting around a


uble and simply engaging in conversaoon. Each couple talked about various top-

ibrrt..n

ics. Using an electronic device, each parmer electronically recorded whether dre
message was posiuve or Regative. Markhan-L found fiat the negativiqz or positir
iw of rhe couple's communication pattern had iinle impact on their marital satisis known as

1,s21.
the honelrnJrn .ff".t, lVor.
faction'during their first

it

Wffiactonnrarriag.e[Huston,McHale,andCrouter,l986].)
But afrer the first year, couples v,ith neganve premarital contmunication paftems
*ireTesr satisfied than those widr positive communicarion patterns. A rrore recent
snrdy-flulien, Markman, and Lindahl, 1989) found that those premarital coupies
who responded more to each other's positrve communication than to each other's
negative communicadon were nore sadsfied in marriage four years latcr.

Marital Communicadon Patterns and Sadsfaction


Researchers have found a rlumber of patterns that distinguish the coumunicadon
patteg$ in saUsfied rrarrtages in contrast to dissatisfied nrai'riages (Gotrrnan, 1994;

llendricli, 1981;Noller and Fitzpatrich 1991; Schaap, Buunli, and l(erisn'a,


les in sausfied marriages tend to have the following characteristics:

19BB).
Touch is one

of our PrimorY meons

of communiconon. /t conveys intr-

to accept conflict but to engage in conflic in nondesfiuctive

mo cy, imm edi ocy,


ci

o l s frequcllt cOnniCt and less

cialh,abo,rffqrnqutr@
cluraslerisdcs.

The .ahilitf to dis"l"." or reveal

private

tend to
to one's parme.r. Dissatisfied_
tireir
to
&II g ts

0
ln posluve w

s.

oseness.

nd emotion ol

CHAPTER 5

o The

to encode (send verbal and nonverbal messages accura,ely


accuratelv from thcir spouscs

Thlkirtg is the ruqar',.t,a.t'wc estabLish.

ntninttitt, ntonitori and aljust lur


ticn.ships,

DrsoRAlt TA

rcl.tl

This rs especially important for husbands. Unhappy partners In21r 2ssxally decode the messages of sffangers more accuratelv than those from
their partners.

xe"'

Gender Differences in Partnership Communication


For some time, researchers have been aware oI gender differences ir general communication patterns. More recendy, they have discovered specific gender diffelences in marital communication (Klinetob and Smith, 1996; Noller and
Fitzpau'ick, 1 99 1 ; Thompson and \4/alker, 1 989).
wives tend to send clearer messages to dreir

eir hru-

end tyttf5]insivQto_their hl
bands

I FTFhCgattvcmc ag
("You look ara,ful") than are theii husbands, who may not reply at a1i.

"
R

IIIIIi

tend to give more posi

send fewer cl
make irmore

l es

diffiuiiilfrves

ro

her
a

reaily not care, 0r is he

Osctt WILDE(1854-1900)

shouid go to

neural response, such as, "Whatever,"


pretending he doesn't to avoid possible conflictl

movie a.nd he gives

RefIection

does he

ney esc ate

cOlllict wi

ferences in communication tend


ships? lf so how?

't give me thatl") or de-escalate arguments by setting

t.1

ing or escalattg con


important h sedng tte chmate br resol

ilrpu*

to

hold true in yoUr intimate relation-

negatlvevettr

an au:rosphere of agreement ("I understand your feelings'). Husbands'

Do you flnd thal,husband-wife dif-

Third, although communication differences in arguments between husbands


rlves tend to
and ves are usu Sm , nevel dldess blow a typicipatem.
set the emotional tone of an

171g,
`

ayf

rend

to

or see

,: 77g

differences?

ences

are less

cs. ves ten

Are there other

What

krnds of differ-

of problems might exrst ir

same-sex relationships?

aputals and d,reats more than husbands, whq tend to rda-sonFelc


conciliation, ard_ry,postpgng !lgd-4t-algu.l@t A wfe is more like\, 1e
loffit'whereas-ahusband is more lil<ely to say, "Be reasonable."

l.r

ul

Studies suggest dratpoor communication skilis precede the onset of mariproblgms (Gotrnan, 1994;Markman, 1981;Markman et a1., 1987). The mate-

rial thai follou,s

r.r,iIl assist

you in understanding and developing

good

cornmunication skiIls.
Silence is the lne grea.t art of conaerso-

--lrtronverhal

Commrrnication

tisn'

mLLIAMttlTfo778483o

There is nr: such fiing as not cornmunicating. Even whe:r you are not talkrng, you
are communicating by your silence (for example, an awlavard silence, a hosule
silence, or a tender silence). You are communicating by dre way you position vour
head and through your facial expressions, your physical distance lrom the other person, anci so on. Looh around you. How are the people

body and

tilt your

in,voul presence commutri cating' n onvelbally?


Olre of dre problerns with nonverbal communication, however, is dre

irnpre-

'

Tlse

cisioll ofits messages.Is a person owning or squindngP Does tte smile indicate l
fricndlilless or ncn ousnessP A persOn lnay be in reflecivc silence,but ve

nuclen

lies

are ofien told in

silence

RoBERT Lous STEVENSON(1850-1890)

lllav i

inrerpret the silence as disapproval or distance.


Functi ons of l{onverlLa] Communicati on


An important srudy of nonverbai communlcation and maritai interacoon found

at

nonverhal comm dcadon has dlrecimportant f_lncdOns in marriage(NOller, I

198o:(1)COnve,ng hterpersond atittides,(2)expreSJng emottons,and(3)han- l

,"

z/al

O
1ettL i
dling tte Ongoing interacdon.

regow BatesOn descibes i

nonverbal communication as revealing "the nuances and intlicacies of how


mo peop)e are getting along" (quoted in Noller, 1984). Holding hands can
sugq'est intirnacy; sitting on opposite sides of tire couch can suggest distance.
Not Iooking at each other in cont,ersatiott can suggest awkrl,ardness or a lack
ol intimacy,

'

'

CHAPTER 5

PERSPECTD

received negative feedback, that is,

through :po*u. struggles-both of


which may be unconscious,These
family rules are "policies" that evolve

'

none,r lmagine,'however

over time, such as "No one will discuss Daddy's drinl<ing."The rules
rnay be oveit (openly recognized) or

angeqthen the c'utput would be


guarreiing and discussion in the farnily.This angry ourput rhen

they may be covert (hidden and


unrecognized)

that the fam-

'ily rule was to mebt outburst with


outbursr, lf tlre family rule called for

would

become new input inro the fanrily


system. lf the family rule allows the

ffi l\r,te
\

11
our emotionalstates are expressed through

:IYt

Q httm

tflyJerson
h

I IT

Q I

l interest and attentiOn

:h,wn hacit`:b6red
I We leanintt tOward thC

IrLt*

"rPu'ja,Ir.lol$i.rr.o
walks wirh a sprin[, Smiles,
frowns, tu,.ro",.d'bro-.r,

"gi,

bined.memtieriil:ulei,They are
arriyed at either consensrrlty r.

O,mnwiatilnand ConfliaRwolutint

-lrelstill:

itlittl

,Fi

,itresswill
:

.Envkonnentol input "Men and women


are equall'

which an egalitarian norm is evolving'

: rr ll
ttleV7edisT
Relationship bel

conlnu,

recn Verbal and Nlonverbal Communicajon

W I 41 wi
l
:
el
::sttlens

ive colltain both a verhal and a 10nver,al


The messages that we send and receii

a
ul

lT
I
dtS
II

il,1fi:[ffi'iliii]J;;;;;;;;;';se
thevtrbalandnonverbtt Par

has

nelltr

,01 hoSde)

:[:^TTl
iobe undersiood according to both

Refl ections
What rules does Your familY have
to
regarding family menrbers ability

their minds freelY on anY


saY about
subject? What can You

speak

cDmmunication Patterns

nen[11:li::::II:11111

i ;: llli4.It I111:;:lfII:

family?To

wlrat

whom

tn

Your

can You talk about

rs haPPenrng?

CHAPTER 5

:i
dtthp

In

I CHD G

Ploxirniry Eye Contacr, and Touch


Three of the most important forms of nonverbal communication
are proxrmity,
eye contact, and touch,

fi :
:7:i
r

: I
:

WttII 1 1i
i

in tOgether."

Sttsle

: d mott ime
together (seven hours per day, in
contrast to flve hours per day for

distressed couples) (Kirchler: I 989)

In a sOcial situaJOn, le Lcc_tO_ice distances between peOpl


whell start
ing a cOnversadon are clucs tO hOw tte individuals wish tO denne the relatiOnsl
AI cultl

ip.

res have an intermediate distance il) cc_tO


face interactiOns d at are

neutral.h mOst culttlres,decreasing the distance

igmies arlln 4tauOn tO greater


indma9 0r a threat,ll101 lg away dcnOtes tte desire tO terIIllnate the interacd()n
en yOu stand at an intermediate distance Om sOmeOnc at a par
you Send

the message thath tima(yis nOt encOuraged.If)


u wanttO rllove closett hOweverl
you risk the chance OfreicctiOn.ThercfOre,you must exchange cues,sucll as
laughter Or small talk,befOre mO ng dOserin Order tO avOid facing direct reieC

don.Ifthe persOn mOvOs ttrthel away during this exchange(


Excuse me,I ttdnk
l sec a fl icnd"),he or she is signaling disinterest.Butiftte persOn mOves c10sc
then there is dle

PrOpoSal"for greater indlllacIs relat10nships deve10P,there

is c10se gazing intO each Othert eyes,h01ding hands,and waHdng with arlllls
aroluld each OtllcI_a11 0fwhich require c10se prO

mi54

But because Of cultural di eren ces, ere can be misunderstandings.The

ncutTal intermediate distancc f01 Latinos,fOr example,is much c10ser ttan frOr

Anglos,whO may misinterpret the distance as c10sc(t00 close

r c01 fOrt).IIl

out,

e same

bchaliOr that a pers n raised in a Latln culttlre deanes as sOcially neutral."


Because Oftlle miscuc, e g10 may withdraw Or nirt,dcPending on his or hcr
feelings.Ifdle 2 glo nirts,ic LadnO may respOnd tO what he Orshe belevesis
the Otherb i dat10n.AdditiOnally dle neutal responses Ofpeople in clll

lres iat
have greater intermediate distances and lcss Ovcrt touching,such as

sian

American culture,may be misinterpreted negattvely by peOple with Odler cul_


tural backgrOunds.

"

BFNIoNSON(1573-1637)

Eye( ontact

luch can be discOvered abOut a relati(

lix 1 lsI
:

l:1

:f'311

: Ititi: :

carlos SIuzL(1982)POLl

person raised in a nOn Latino culttlre ll deane as seducdve beha


01

sodal settlngs, is can icad tO prOblems.

"`

Zi

C n

::i il::

:Lll

17g

77Z

77Ll

m
BEl

'

FM ICN(1706-1790),P

4 L4C
G4RD D

If 1 :
:

iilil [IIITTlii

#l

Reflections 'ro1/e'-

As vou

exanine Your ow'r

ao':u:
bal communication, thinl<
another
and
in which You

lcvcl of eye COntaCt may differ by Culture,

rnnun..,

perSOn htte ha,,n

Cant:4

ng l ' a the d ttrent meattngs you,


,l
arethedfferentmeaningsyo''
smooth."Skinisthemothersensealru""'"'rgriiqaOl fo.r.t isalife-giung

'
-;t"e'
*iff;;il;;rrj,r."l.
attacbd,ie. we
contall
P;y'ifl
::*::*''
emotion are derived fi;;;J'
"tt*ng''o
bv someone or something'
hold hands

received?

ment, aj]dfe'li-g'wh;;;t;;;;;don'ttv'l'o"d
touch
oiu.ing
or acquainmnc( )maY
a violation' A stranger

"touched'"

;;;k

givenaldtorc'

asc,ibe;;;

for
Many of our words
ffitt;;::tm:,^,,'.,'".#J:?r#;.t'.r**raiitorhrive.andmave'en

llut touch *" ^i;;l;


f":l date or parme:ilX';tJ:l
f^*J,^,
n,".,
were
lflcluu"" *" -us as if they
't"y','J
'n'n
And sel'al harassment
want'
;t;'il;or
in a manner y"'
'ou
'.oara ,ouai'ing'
closeness' in facc'
em.donal close
and emouonal
-^^r;^^., o.,.l
immediacv'

'

intimacy'
Touch often signals

touchnrayvery,u,eI1u.,l,.*",;iniumatefJ;;i;"-verbalcommunicadon.
p'"l*lYr"$U:$l]i

o,. ,.,.,,.h* Gh,;;;i;;;i";;.,,

i-*,':i",;ffi

"Ir;;;;;l

':i

'

-**-xi;;tiki1f:'J1,ffi##-f
1983)'

themseiresGr*rin
to talk more about

I1i'fi"il;:[:,T#*#.1#:'
fnendship,

son is touchea

.rn

!u!::',!,i,'i,o

,,lgg;

#ff

::*.

'i'J'l''6

"

lIil,:*:H;I:frl$xr;-f,'#
;i;;;

nroup,. Members

il.h;ilirr;' b.*H*:Tlfi,lli.*m;;;.;;;

c"' d"'lht'lp'pc'm

i;1

vurv'le

disciosemore;lntact'rouctr"";:";]--.i
ori.". 1981:Norton,
N;*"",
un,r i'f;,'iilL

*.,,

,u,l,i,)i,,,i,'!,'liioi:;i,r',oi;,',

i;;"

;;'v'"''d
r'':lt,!:,:,"::,':,'1,i,'
-'-,^.,"
rr,,"rhativt.:hta'tt'f
,',n,:j,'!r!,"'l
',

r:y*
'::: -i'grcur

ffi,

ftnscrs touct'rtgand
o'lhu w"1'daw h

"f
*r"r.1*."**
":'::'rtreactt
t":::
EuroPean
6o'ib
##;;;;;;
:;:"'::'.
A',rericans touch t?' g*i;,.irt $ilfil
ih.,.,,
o98)
i r
I fileDo
nedCan
Attcan
a"

ano

Asian



ttBll

Om Cradle to gravc.

11

straFlgcrS and exprcss:

Men d

eater conCern abOut being tOuched.

i vrith men.

'rh'r

CHAPTER 5
Sextalbehavior relies above all else on touch: the tor"rching of self and otirers, and the touching of irands, faces, ches6, arms, necks, I.er, ,,rd genitals. Sexual
behavior is skin contact. In se,xual interactions, toucir takes p.e..delr.e over sight,
our eyes to caless, kiss, and make love. ln faci, we shut our eyes to
focus better on the sensadons aroused by rouch; u,e shur our visual distractoss
t..r
as we-close

intensif, the tactile erperielce of sex,aliry,


Tlie abiliq, to interpret nonverbal communicarion correctllz appe:rrs to be
an important ingredient in successfui relationships. The ,tr,.rr.r, ,,I can
tell
when something is bothering him or her" reveals the abiliry ro read nonverbil
clues, such as body langl a.ge or facial expressions. This abiliq, is especially
impor_
t-an_! in ethnic gloups and cultures that rely heavily on nonverbai
expressiol of
feeiings, such as Latino anti Asian-American cuitures, and although the value
placed on nonverbal explessron r11i1; y2ry benveen qroups and culruies, the
abiliq, to cornr:runicate and understand nonverbally remains importanr in ell cultures. A cornparadvc stld.y of Chinese and American romand; relationships,
for
erlamllle, found that shalcd nonverba] nreanings ri ere iniportant for- the
success

Man'itd mrqtks,,L'ho lot,e cnclt othcr.


tcll

each othcr n thorunnd tltings

uithaut talking.
Cnrxtsr lRorrenr

of relationships

ir bctl

cultures (Gao, 1991).

bkttnicadOn

Skills

\\'iri]e ri'e cr.rnoi ,0/ corrnrulricate, rve can enhance the qualiq, of our comrru-.
nicalitxt so tl;rt 1r'e ctn u;rclcrstirncl each other and enhance our ieiarionships. \.4/e
can learn to cott-ulrittricate colrsil'u(:uvely rather than clestructivel)r
rve hope, u,iil help vou develop good communicauon skills so thar

sjips will be rnurualh'

re

u,ardins,

rylc,; of n4 r:;c,,lnnl irllj

'lrJnia

!trhat follo"rs,
your relation-

sni nOted in P

cn rj

on

77g(1988),ller
r//Z

dassic wO

(On 1]lih

nicadOn,that peOPle usC bur swles Of] iSc611 municadOni l


q9_mp_91.U& and,j istracting,

col

lu

laning,

iPlacatei,i?lacaiCrs ar-e elu,avs agreeable. Thel, 21g passive, speak r;r an


mgratiauna rnamer, and act he]pless. If a parrrrer wants to make lole
r olrcater does not, drc placater r.r,ill not refuse, because that mrgJrt cause a'i,hen
scenr,

\o

one knou,s v,hat placaters ; ealIy \^'arlt or


lurou', either.

feel-and they thenrseh,es ilrt.,n ;i, igt

Blamcrs act superir;r, Their bodjes are tense, drcv are rrfren ang;,.
.
.Blant,u"s.
and

they gesture by poinrinq. Insrde, tirey feel weali ald \ ranr to hrde this filo;l
If a bla,rer-runs short of mone\,, the parrner is
the one u,ho spenr it; if a child is conceived bry accident, the partirer should har,e
used contraception. The biarner cloes not listen and alwavs tries to escaile
er''eryone (including thernsr:h,es).

Reflecrions
Do you {lnd that any of tlrese styles
ol miscommunication characre-'ze
your own cornmunication patterns?
Your partner's styleT Your parents',
siblings', or chrldren

pens

s?

What hap-

ifyou and your partner

s'.rilar styl:s? Di{er'ert stv

es?

have

responsibiliqr
.Conr,putus. Computers are veqr correct and reasonabJe.'Ihey shc.,r,r, only
printouts, not feelings (wluch they consider danserous). ,,If one talies careful note
of my increasing heartbeat," a Corlputer marr/ totreless]r, St1:, (ro,-ra must
he forced
to come to the conclusion that I'n angrl," Tlre parurer u,lLo is irrerfacing. also
a
computer, does not change expressio, and replies, "That's interesting,',

Distrnctors. Distractors act frenetic and seldom sa]/ anlrthing reJevanr. Tirey
flit about in word and deed. Inside, $e1; fsgl Ionelv anrl o,it of p)r... In cljfficuit
siruations, distractors lieht cigarettes and talli abour school, politics, business-


R
7jrFrl 77

PERSIECTD

:
i

allythingto a,/oid discussing relevant feelings' If a partner vrants to discuss something serious, a distractor changes the subject'

RefIection

As you look at these familY tYPes,


how would you identifY Your fam-

Why People Don't Communicate


gender
We can learn to communicate, but it is not always ,rry, Trrtdirional male
calls for
.oles, f;i.*r"rpl., *;ik rgainst the idea of expressing feelin.gs. Thrs role
taik
rn.n ,o be st ong anrl silent, to ride offinto dre sunset alone. If men talk, they
Also,
about things-.^rr, polidcs, spofis, work, money-but not about feelings.
feelings.
their
expressing
both men ,-o,l *o*.n may have personal reasons for not
like,
They mav have strong feelings of inadequacy: "If you really knew what I was
may feel aShamed of, or guilty about, their feelines:
),ou wouidn't like me]'They
1'So,nerin,,es
I feel attracted'to other people, and it trakes me feel Builq'

6tt"t'

ily?

(Remembet, however: that fami-

often combine asPeG of these


different models ) What are the

lies

consequences of being in such a

your fanrily of orientation


.is a certain type of family,will the
family you creale be similar? WhY?
family? lf

Can a closed famllY be transformed

into an oPen

familY?

CHAPTER 5 1

7t
0 O
r

io r 2

JOHN IGETHBRAITH

Obstacles tO self_Awal,cness
No man, for any cowiderabh period,
wear
rh e

one

face ta

hinxelf, and anothu,

can
to

nrultitude, uithout
fina@ getting

bcwildered

ta which

ma!

Narrumu HalrrHoRNE

(1

be

*ue.

804_ 1 g64 )

r" //a

"
``P%

may say our partner is hurt.

,,

JE PAUL SART (19051980)

ffi
11

Becorning aware of ourserves.requ,,es


us to become aware of our
f-eerings,
;,, i, ..,r,inlliI
are sim_
elllot10FAal State
i3;;3;

j::*:,::f::l *:,.,*;;;

l llI ::[:I :Cillli

mmm e
Q
l:El::
]:i
T:le:i
ml, LI:
10r e ressed.Itis the act_

1su[

1
l

g,h;;;;;s,

LCllu41 fOr
1or pl
pl Oolel
P tendal
blems

Or hurt,

A/1P
r

tt
`

THOMAR L
(1875_1955)

YIDDIsH PRO RB

een men and

,dri _Wedges be
l,r..
in. ;lh:J..ffi:,ffi;iJ :
kaows *hrt th.

u/omen, on e sex d oes; no


r und erstand rh,
marriage until neither parrner

,Ti'ffff:,$il

what ihev

;;;;;., paftners
*";;r;;rrrs (ruoted

orher wan6;

"'n'fo''h"]'i",'

In one

::: 1 ilit 1
IIi:llilI1lII 11 i
mes get wOrned becausc l tllintt ma

bc

C)antmuniltion and

Conflit

Ruolunon

wanttoo much.HCt a good husband;he wolks iard;he takes care ofme attd ttc
hds.He could go outand ind another woman who WOtld be very happy to have a
man like dlat,and who wouldnt be all tte dmc complaining at him bccause he
docsnt icl tthgs and gct close.

If yott

at is missing is the intimacy that comes iom selidisclosure.People live


:

V 1
::

How MuCh Openness!


should indmates re17Cal to each o erP Some studies suggest dlatless marital sat

medillm
isicdon resd ifparmers havetoo Lde 6rt O much disdosur%a hap

Safe

anythtng.
TI]UMPER,S MOTHER

"
"

%`
%`

,
Jy Z

Can too much operlness and hones7 bC harmil to a reladonshiP'How much

Ofir secu %stabili%and

can't sa1 somethingnice, dan't sa1

But a re ew of studics on the reladonship

"

ICE RoosE ELT LoNGWORTH


(1884-1980)

bepeen communicadon and maritalsadsfacdon inds dlat alinear model ofcom


mllnicadon is more cloSc related to marit l sadsfacdon dlan tlle too

little/too


tr
Lill T WsTcOm
I: TT

tted to dle reladonslilp and

ll

:1:

1991).ItiS not clear whether the ncga


d renecti dle marital distess or causes it.Most libl

dle o

illteract and

z
Z`

"

LttK TWAIN(1835-1910)

compound each otherb erects.

lr^

1111 il:


11171

1,1

SbURCE: Reproduced bY sPerial


permission
Copyright

of

PloYboY magazine:

1997 bY PlaYboY

Sefidisc/osure is reciprocol.

5133

WEST c PR
LR3

1 SOmcthillg dla

lhu

1 0urpal tllcr is invOlved


l deStrO}red lf ttust is dc
1 1 al c clll iveness

is nO l

i 1lli:]
]:illi :iil :lj!111;il:
1 1:lill :IIIl:IIi
nmunica10n(SCal{ 995)
l all)i CXClusive or l10nexc11

Ord n ess_
o

r tte lack

O Flr
l dis(

tt

h 1

'ay

6
while you are
m:st level, you may believe he or she is going to meet someone else
srudung in the iibrary.
'
drr, in personal relationships has both a behavioral and a motivational
to the probacomponenr (Book et al., 1980). The behavioral component refers
component
biliry that a person will act in a trustwordry manner. The motivational
,.f.., to the reasorrs a person engages in A'usmorthy actions' Whereas the behavelement
ioral element is imporiant in ali q.pes of relationships, the rnotivational

Consider what life would ba like

nerylne muld lie perfectll, or if na one


could lie at

be more tentnus.

rea-

edge that
be a

lfc

mlre dispiay put on

ta Please,

adrift, attachntents

sm.ile z:)as reliable , nean' nbsent wben

pleasure was

felt, and neaer present

without pleaxtre, life woull be rougheXl.


tlsan

it

is,

many relationsbips hart)er

maintaitt. Pol.itnzess, atte?7t\tt

mattefi lrer, to

to selfSelf-clisclosure is reciprocal, ifwe self-disclose, vre expect our partner


selfdisclose as well. As we self-disclose, we build trust; as we withhold
we don't mrst
disclosure, we erode trust. To withhold ourselves is to imp\' that
the ot.her person, and if we don't, he or she willnot ffust us'
A critica] elemenr in cornmunicarion is feedback, the ongoing process in
which participants and their messages create a given result and are subsequendy
modifi;d by th. result. If someone self-discloses to us, rqe need to respond to-his

Jess

neaer lie, if a

frm. And tf ue could

of doty or because your permer can't find anyone-better is the urrong


a
motivation. Disagnee.ents.aboui the motivationai bases for trust are often
you need tne"
source of conflictl "I $.ant you because you love me, not because

Giving Feedback

wotr,ld

Cutain in the hnouL

eany tbow of ernotian ntight

wauld be mare

sex" are rypor "You clon't reaily love me;you're just saying that because you want
ical examples of conflict about motivation.

felt, and if wc

manipulate, or mislead, indittiduals

because

nuld neaer

we

knew that we coaldn't know,

Lr.lrriu.

all. . . . lf

hnow how sante one really

important in close relationships. One has to be n"ustwo*y I., the "right"


yoxr
,nrr. A. long as you trust your mechanic to charge you fairly for rebuilding
why
.rr's .rrgrn.lyo, don't .r.. *hy he or she is trustworthy' But you do care
semal1y
be
yoo, pri*.,is nust*orthy. For example, you wantyoo, partner to
to you because he or she lovei you or is attracted to you' Being faithful
is

if

conceal

wished one didn't


gonc. Thcre

ieeiings

ru vrnoath
ane

feel-alll that would be

would

be no tLtay

hnootn, no opponunity to

;
.

tr,

rnt

to be

stlh or lick

one's wounds except alone.

Pew Ecxturv,Ttttttc Ltts

inforor her selfdisclosure. The purpose of feedback is to provide constructive


her
or
his
of
increase anotle;'s self-awareness of the consequences
mation to

that disbehavior toward you. (fiote drat this q?e of feedback is different from
cussed 0n pages 140-141')
Ifyoor"prttner discloses to you his or her doubts about your reiauonship,
fbr example, you .rr', respontl in a number of ways. Among these are remaining
ttedbach.
silent, venting,rrg.., .*pr.ssing indifference, or giving-constructive

g`

RoBERT Lous STE NSON(185 1894)

response)
First, you can-remain silent. Silence, hov,ever, is generaliy a negative
to selfp_artner
want_your
p..hrp, as powerful as sa},lng ourrighr that you do not
itir.lor. thir typ. of infoirnarion. Second, you can respond angrlly, whir:h mav

to arguments
convey th. ,rlrs.g. ro youl' parrner that self-disclosing will lead
indifferrathei than underiundrng ani possible change. Third, you can remain
ent, responding neither n.grtiu.iy nol posilivelyto your parurer's,self-disclosule'
(rather than
Fourrh, )rou ca'n ackncrvrlelge your partner's feelings as being valid
right or wrong) and disclose howyou feelin response.to his or her statement'
acknowlJdgent and response is constructive feedbach. It may or nlay not
f:his

l:emove yo.r,

pri*..'s

doubts,

tut it is at least constructive in t}at it opens up the

do not.
possibihry foi change, whereas silence, anger, and rrdiffererlce
So*. guidcli"nes (dr:veloped by David Johnston for dre Minnesota Peer
program) miy help you.engage in dialog'ue and feedback widr your paftner:

'

"I" statements, An "I" statement is a statetnent airout your


"I feel annoyed when vou leave y,our dirty dishes on the liv-

Focus on
feelings:

,'You"
statements tell anrtther person how he or she
fl.or.,,
is,"feels, or rhinks: "You are so irresponsible. You're always leaung
your dirry dishes on the living roorn floor." "}bu" statements are often
ir-,g ,o"om

:
y

CH ESE PRONIERB

CHAPTER 5
blarrung or accusatory. Because

"I"

messages don't carry

blame, the

recipient is less likely to be defensive or resenrfrrl.

Focus on behavjor rather than on the person. Ifyou focus on a person's beharaor rather than on the person, you are more iikely to
secure change. A persou can change behaviors but not hirnselfor herseif. If you want your parurer ro wash his or her dirty dislies, sa1,, "I
would like you to wash your dirry dishes; it bothers me when I see

them gathering mold on the living room floor," This sratemenr


focuses on behavior that can be changed. Ifyou say, "You are such a
slob; you never clean up after yourself." then yon are attacking the
person. He or she is likely to respond defensive\,: "I am nor a sjob.
Thlk about slobs, how about when you left your ciothes hdng in the

bathroom for
There

i.r

cln.tainr

pcrhaps
s0

n.o

ntnch destructiue .fceling as

ntornl indign.ation. which pernr.its


or hatc to

be acted. out

sa.y

thin.k to aar equals would be


ntann.ercd; to srtl uhat

infcriorc

i.r

dirty dishes around dre house" is an inference that a partner's dirqv


dishes indicate a iack of regard. The inference moves the discussion
from the dishes to the partner's can;x1. The question "14&at liinci
of person would leai.e dirq, dishes for jne to clean upi " implies a
judgment: only a moraih, ciepraved person would leave dirty disires

think to out' ruperiors

would bt incxpedient: to

unkind,

rei.her rhan on inferences or j.adg-

ments. Focus your feedback on what vou acnrally observe rather


than on what you think the behavior means. "There is a rowering
pile of youl dishes rn the living roc,nr" is an obsenarion. "\bu don't
realli, g2ys about how I feel because you are always ieaving your

enu.1

undn'thc glise of

FRono,t (1900-1980)

Tb sa.1 what we

"

3 Focus feedback on observations

'u-it'tuc.

Enlcu

a weeh?

phenontenon which

around.

wbat ue

ill-

ltc think to otu'

Focus feedback on obsen ations ba.sed on

rnore-or-less continuum.

Beharriors f'all on a continuuur. Your partner doesn't always do a pardc-

ular thing. Id&en you say rhat he or she does somerhing.somedmes or


even most of dre dme, )iou are actlallv ureasuring behavior. If you sey
that;r6ul partner airva1,5 does somedriug, vou are distorting reality,

Gaod ntttnn,cr,r

lccttp)t tl)e tcrrnin. betweuz fear and pit1.

QurNrru Cnisr

For example, there were probably umes (however rare) when your
partner picked up the r:iirry ciishes. "Lasr weeir I pici<ecl, ulr )/our d1r[,
dishes drree times" is a measured sratement. "I alwavs pick up vour
dirry dishes" is an exaggerarion rhat will probably provoke a hosdle
response.

Focus feedback on sharing ideas or offenng alternatives rather dran


on giving advice, No one likes being told what to do. Unsolicited
advice often produces anger or resentment because ad,,.ice impiies tirat

you knou,more about what a person needs to do *ran the other person does. Advice implies a Iack of freedom or respecr. By sharing icleas
and ofrering alternatives, ho'wever, you give the other person the freedom to decide based on his or her own perceptions and goals, "\bu
need to put awa)r )/our dishes imnediately after 1,s11 are done with
them" is advice. To offer alternatives, you might say, "Ha.,,ing to walk
around vour dirty dishes bothels mc. Vr4rat are the alternauves orirer
than my watching m), step? tr,Iaybe ,r,ou couid put them awav after vou

finish eating, clean them up before I get houre, or eat in tire tritchen.
\A&at do you thinkl"

6 Focus feedback accordir.ig to its value to the recipient.If


ner

saVS

vour parr-

something that upsets yrlu, voilf initial response mal, be to

10

CHAPTER 5
lash back. A cathartic resDonse may mahe you feei better for dre

Excwes are always mixed. with lies.


A-ne-src

time being, but it may not be useful for )iour partner. If, for example, your pafiner admrts lying to you, you can respond with rage and
accusations, or fou can express hurt and try to find out why he or
she didn't teliyou the rruth.

tno\Enl

Dir{ vou

'

l<nou,)

load your parmer rvith your response.

A repeated cycle of negative verbal


drawal by the husband is a pattern
that commonly manifests itself in
distressed marriages (Kurdeck

roo(\

I
all inclined

to

judge oursehes

b1'

you are not likely to be interrupted. Turn the television off and the
phone-answering machine on. Also, choose a time that is relatively
skess free. Thlking about somet}ing of great importance just l.refore.

lilie\, to sabotage any attempt at


a place that will ptovide privacy; don't

communication. Finaliy, choose


start an importarrt conversalion if you are worried about people's
overhearing or i:rterrupting you. A dormitory lounge during the
soaps, Grand Central Station, a kitchen teeming with kids, or a car

lie-nolo Nlcuotso^-

'I'ii:

partner's disclosure ruay

Focus feedbacic at an appropriate time and place. Choose a time wl.ien

an exam or a business meeting, is

our ideah; others lry theh' nxs.

lbur

Don't over-

tonch deep, pent-up feelings in you, but he or she may not be able to
comprehend all that you sa)r If you respond to your partner's revelation of doubts with a listing of all the doubts you have ever experienced about yourself, your relationship, and relationships in general,
You ma)r overwhelm Yo,,. Parmer'

expression by a wife and with-

We are

Focus feedback on the arnount the recipient can process.

full of friends is an inappropriate place,


at,_';

uq,t0 strrab the mtth is to

lpr,ti: l,t;:in,qly.

ihsll

J.r,vro THonreu (18I7-1862)

MutualAffirmation
Good communication in an intimate relationship involves ruunral affirmation,
which includes drree elements: (1) rnutual acceptance, (2)liking each o*rer, and

Figure 5.1
Conrmunication Loop
In

suc

ce

ssful c om.ntun

peed back

i c ation.,

feedbnck between the send,er


and. receiuer ensures that

both understand (or are

ny-

ing to understand) what

is

b e

in g c ommunicat

d. F or

com,tnunication ta be clea7
the m,usage and the intent
behind the rnessage nxust

be

cafigaent. N onu er"b a I and

Y
Sender

-"w

Message

lntent

aerbal components must also

ruppott the intended

nxessage.

Verbal nspeas of cotnmunica-

tion include not only language and word choice bu.t


also characteristics ruch as

tone, uolunte, pitch, rate, and


pu"iods of silence.

w*

Feedback

Receiver

0
(3) erpressrng liking in both words and actions. Afuzual aglepta.nce consists of
p*pf, ,...plrrg .r.l-r oth.. as they are, no.r.as drey would like each other to be'
b.opl. are wholhey are, and they are not likely to change in fundamental ways
*ithout a tremendous amount of personal effort, as well as a considerable passage of time. The belief that an insensitive parlner will soinehow magically

b.".or.

Rellections

sensigve after marriage, for example, is an invitation to disappointment

ofhow much

and divorce.

To get a sense

If you accept people as they are, )/ou can like them for their unique qualiIt
ties. Liking ro*.or. is-somewhat different from being romantically-involved'
linked'
is ,rot rareior people to disiike those witi whom they are romanucaily
We also r..d,o erllress our feelings of warmth, affection, and love. To one's
partner, unexpressed ,ords, actions, thoughts, kindnesses, deeds, touches,

afilrm or negate someone, keeP

or unfeit ones. "You know that


I love you" without tl-re expressions of love is a meanir-rgless statement. A simple
,r1. oitirrmb for communicating love is:If vou love, show love'

.rr.rr.r, ard tr<lsses can he the same as nonexistent

Murual affirmatron entails our telling others that we like them for who they
do'
are, that we appreciate the iittle things as well as the big things tlat they
children,
Think rbout ho, often you say to your paltner, your parents, or your
"I iike vou," "f love you/' "I appreciate your doing dre dishes," or "I lihe your
of
smile,";Affirmations are often most frequent during dadng or the early stages
marriage or living rogerher. As you get to knou, a person better, you may begrn

You

tracl< of your affirmations and nega-

tions. On a sheet of PaPer label


one column afilrmations and the

other column negations. Each time


you mal<e an afflrmation of that
person, give yourself a Plus; each
rime yctt rake a negation, give
yourself a minus. At the end of the
day compare

the numbers of

pluses and minuses,As a result

of

your commenis, how do You tnink


the other' person feeis?

noring things thut antoy you or are different from you. Acceptance rurns into
n.grti"on ani criricism, "You're selfish," "Stop bug'ging ffi," "You mlk too much"'
o.l'\tr,'1-,1, don't you clean up after yoursel0"
If you have a lot of negatives in your interactions, don't feel too bad, tr'tany
have-been
of our negarions are habiruai. When we were children, our parents mav
;,Don,t leave the door open," "\4,4ry can'tyou
"S'"and
gradesi"
S!!bete_r
n.grting,
rou become
srr"ai,qh;and puil iri your sromach." llow often did thev affirmi Once
nesadve
aware that n.gono,r, are often automatic, you can change them. Becaase
comrnunicatiln is a learned behavior, you can unlearn it. One u'ar is io make rhe

The facrs are alway:

fiendly. Eaery bit

af nidence one can acquire,

in any area,

leads o'ne that much chser to wbat is

Cml Roocgns, 0Y

Bncorutttt; P,ttnlvns

decisionconscious\'toaffirmwhatl'oulii<e;toooften$'etaketheeoodfor
granted and feel compelied ro point out onlv the bad'

coexConflict berween people who love each c.rdrer seems to be a nri'stery The
An ancient
istence of conflict ard- lur. has puzzled human beings for cenruries.

Sansicit poem re{lected this dichotourv:


In the old days we both agreed
That I was )/ou anci You \ilere me'
Bui nov, what has happened

That

makes yor.l,

vou

And rne, me?

it dc'esn't. Two people do not


have this
become one *h.n thev love each other, although at first they mal'
6neness
feeling. Their love may not be an iliusion, but tlieir sense of uldmate
\A/e expect love to unifi, us, but sometimes

In ieaiiry rhe,v rerain their individual identities, needs, wan[s) and pasts while
loving .r# ot(.r-and it is a paradox that the roore intimate two people
bt to experience conflict' But it is not conflict
b..o,i1., the m.re liire\'thev
is.

''1;

Tbc tuareness of .rannnes

rhi

o.worentss of

lAi

Il,

dffirrnce

AuDEr.r (1907-1971)

is

frirndshrp;

is kue'

CHAPTER

itself that is dangerous to intirnate relationships; it is the manner in u,hich rhe


conflict is handled.
APOL)GIZE. o.t, 7i
tion..for

tht

la1,

fouill-

future ffinte

Ail{BROs[ BTERCE

(1

842-l 9t 4),

Tut Dnnt's Drcrtox,qn

conflict is natural in inrimate relationships. If this is unclerstood, the


meaning of conflict changes, and it wiil nor necessarily represent a crisis in the
relationship. David and Vera h\ace (1979), prominenr mar-riage counselors,
observe that on the day of marriage, people have three i<inds o? raw materjal
with which to work. First, there are rhjngs you have in common-rhe thines
you
both like. Second are the wai6 in which you are diffelent, but the diffeiences
are complementary. Third, unfortunately, are the differences between us
thar
are not at a.li complementary and d-rar cause us to meet head-on with a
big bang.
In every relationship befiveen ru,o peopie, there are a great many cf thor. tin

j,

Argutnent is thc worst

ntt

of differences. So u,hen we move cloier toeether to each other, those differences become disagreements. The pr.r.,,.', of conflict within a marriage
or
family does not necessarily indicate that love is goine or sone. Ir may ,rr.rn
irrr
the opposite.

of

c017uct'iati0?x.

oN,t'ru,uv Surr-r A 667 -17 45)

asic versus i.Ionbasic Conflicts


It

is a

luntry

conflict-basic and nonbasic-aftecr rhe srabiiiry of a reladonship.


Basic conflicts challenge the f-irndamenral assumpnons or mles ola reiadonshirr,
Ti.vo grpes of

to bc a,nderstaod.

Rarps Weloo Elrensoru (l B0l-t

892)

whereas nonbasic conflicts do nor.

tsasic

Did yort lrnow?


When the communication patterns
of newly married African
Americans and Whites wer e exann-

conrncrs

O,S,rn,N60S bf'

\ * O .tfu\

ftiS:*!".t

- ' C\\- [\. [<,\\ ).


c\."\\,ofd,.

Basic conJlius revoive around

larn'ing out marital rores and the funcuons of marriage and the famil,v, such as providing companionshir, working, and rearins
children. It is assumed, for exampie, that a husband and wife will have ,e*rl ,eladons

wjth each other, Butif one partner converts ro a religious secf thar forbi,ls
sexua]
a basic conflict is likely to occur becausi tfie other spouse consiclers

ined, couples who believed jn

interactioll,

avoiding maritai conflicr were less

serual interaction part of the n.,adral plemise. No room for comfropise


exists in
partner canr(lt convince the other to chanp'e his or her [eiief,
f{o1e
the-conflict is likeiy to destroy the relationship. Sirnilarly ,i.rpit. recerr
changes

happy two years later than those

who confronted thetr prob{errrs

/a. h-^ too.)\


\-)vtatttt//LJ,

such a matter

rl

familyroles,

itis srill expected that the husband u,ill'work ro provide fo, the

family. If he decides to quit work altogetJrer.and not funcnon as a provider


in an1,
is challenging a basic assunrption of marriage. His partneiis likely
to feel
1a1i.he
that his behavior js unfair. Conflicr ensues. If he does ,ro, r.*.n to worl:, tis
is likelv to leave

rn,rt'e

hirn.

.-d.,**f\N")"t\
Nonbasic confiicts o'$*S.ewtit'*F't-rn
\)*, q,,"
Thc ntind

is it.r ou,n placc,

and

mn make a heaam of Hcll, a


I'leauen.

Jom tr4rnoN (l608-1674)

in

hill

it.rclf
o.f

"..t-lr-'[,G5L
t' '

Nwtbasic conflirts do

not sujke at the hearr of a relatjonship. The husband u,ants


to change jobs and rno\/e ro a difFerent cir1,, but the wife may not want to rnove.
This may be a major conflict, but it is not a basic one. The husbancl is not u,ilaterally rejecung his role as a provider. Ifa couple disasree about the freq,enq,
ofsex, the conflict is serious but not basic because both agree on the

rlesirahiliq,

of sex in the relationship. In both of rhese

cases.

resolutio-n is possible.

occur because
sonaliq,' of one (or both) of rhe parmers.

ofthe per-

10
(3) erpressing liking in both words and actions. Mufgal aqcepqnce consists of
people u...ptir-rg each orier as they are, not as.they would like each otier to be'
ir.ople are who rhev are, and they are not likely to change in fundamental ways
wi*rout a tremendous amount of personal effort, as weil as a considerable passage of time. The beiief that an insensitive partner wiil sornehow magically
beiome sensitive after marriage, for example, is an invitation to disappointment

Reflections
To get a sense

and divorce.

If you accept people they are, you can like them for their unique quali
des. Liking someone is somewhat different from being romantically involved' It
is not rarehr people to dislike those wrtl whom they are romantically linked.
We also ieed to e,\'press our feelings of warmth, affection, and love. To one's
partner, unexpressed words, actions, thoughts, kindnesses, deeds, touches,
caresses) and kisses can be the same as nonexistent or unfelt ones. "You know that
as

I love vou" r.r,ithout rhe

expressions of love is a meaningless statement. A simple

rule of thumb for communicating love is: If you love, show love'
Muual affirmation enrails our tell-ing others that we like them for who they
are, rirar we appreciate the little things as well as the big things that they do.
Tlunk about how often you say to your parmer, your parents, or your children,
,,I
,,I
like you,,, love you;" "I appreciate your doing the dishes," or "I liire your

ofhow much

You

afilrm or negate someone, keeP


track of your aftirmations and negations. On a sheet of paper: label

one column affirmations and the


other column negations. Each time
you make an affirmation of that
person, give yourself a Plus; each

time you make a negatron, give


yourself a minus, At the end of ihe
day compare

the numbers of

pluses and minuses,As a result

cf

your commenis, how do You tnink


the other person feeis?

smile," tAffirmarions are often most ftequent during daring or the early stages of
knol a pelson better, you may begrn
arriage or living together. As you get
-1-o
noung thjngs that annoy you or are different from you. Acceptance turns into

negatiol and criticism: "You're selfish," "Stop bugging me," "You talk too much,"
or "V/h), don't you cJean up after yourself?"
if you have a lot of negatives in your ilrteractions, don't feel too bad. Many
of our negations are habitual. When we were children, our parents may have-been
n.grting,";,Don'r leave the door open," "Why can tyou g!! bener grades?" "Smnd
snaighind pull in your stomach." How often did they affirm? Once y6u become
aware that niganons are often automatic, you can change them. Because negative

fiiendlJ. Euery bit

The facts are always

af aidence one can acquire, in any area'


leads onc thar

much

closer m what

tnte.

Cuu Roocrns, 0v

Bncomtrttt P,ttn"r'xs

comrnunication is a learned behavior, you can unlearn it. One way is to make the
decision consciously to affirm what vou like; too often we talce the good for
glanred and feel compelled to point out only the bad'

On L nd Tntlmncy
Conflict between peopie who ic;ve each odrer seems to be a nr1,stery' Thc coexistence of conflict and love has puzzled human beings for cenruries. An ancient
Sanslrit poem reflected this dichotorlv:
In the old

days we both agreed

That I was )Iou

anri )/ou were me.

But now what has happened

That

Ard

maires you,

vou

me, me?

it dc,esn't. Tv'o people do not


become one *h.n they love each other, although ar first they ma1' have this
feeling. Their love ma1, not be an illusion, but their sense of uldmate oneness
\A/e expect love to uni$z us, but sometimes

In iealiry thev retain their individual identities, needs, \'vants) and pasts while
loving .r.h otli.t-and it is a paradox that the rnore intimate two people
b..ori., the m.re liiiei1,t5ey ma1'be to experience conflict. But it is not conflict
is.

Thc awareness of ramcness

is

thi raarenest of difference

\ i Il,

AuDEN (1907-1973)

t'rtendship;
loae

C:omnnmiaxion and Ctnflia

R*oktion

ffp

Situational Conflicts
Situational conflicts occur when at least one paftner needs to malce changes in a
relationship. Thev are based on specific demands, iike putting the cap on the
toodrpaste, dir,'rding housework equitably, sharing child-care responsibilities, and
so on. Conflict arises when one person tries to change

t-l-re

For

maniage to

bc

perceful the hus-

band shoulC be deaf and the wiJi blind.


Sr,rmsn

pnotLllr

situation about the

toothpaste cap, housework, or child care.

Personalig Conflicts
Personalitl, cotllicts arise not because of simadons that need to be changed but
because of personaliry such as need.s to vent aggression

or to dominate. Such

conflicts are esse:rdally unrealistic. They are not directed roward making changes
in the relauonship but sirnply toward releasing pent-up rensions. Whereas situational conflicts can be resolved through comprornise, bargaining, or mediation,

personaiiry conflicrc often require a drerapeuric approach, Such personaliry conflicts may pit a compulsive-ripe indnrdual against a free spirit or a fasudious personaliw against a sloppy one.

Foiuer

Conflicts '

The ilolidcs of fanuly life-who has the p.ffi, riho makes the decisions, who
does lrrhat-can be every bit as complex and explosive as polincs at the national
level. Pov,er is the abiliqv c.r potenrial abiliry to influence another person or
$oup" Most of dre dme we ar not aware of the power aspects of our reiation-

Power cotrupts and absalute power cor-

rupts absolute!.
LORD

AcroN (l83+1902)

ships. One reason for this is that we tend to beljeve that inumate reladonships are
based on love alone. Another reason is drat the exercise ofpower is often subde.

When we think of power, we tend to think of coercion or force; as we shall see,


however, rnarital power talies marry forms. A final reason u,h}, urs are not aiways
aware of power is that power is not constandl, exercised. It comes into play onlv
when an issue is importint to both people and they have conflicting goals,
Chanrging Sources of Marital Fower
Ti'aditionally, husbands have held autiroriqv over their wives. In Christianiqi the
subordination of ra,ives to their husbands has its basis in the New Tesmmenr. Paul
(f-olossians 3:18-19) states: "\tr/ives, submit yourselves unto your husbauds, as

unto dre Lord." Such teachings reflected rhe dorninant tlenes of ancient (]reece
:rnd Rome, W'estern sociery continued to support wifeiy subordination to husbands. English common law stated, "J'he husband and v,ife are as one and that
one is the husband." A woman assumed her husband's identiry taking his last
name on marriage and iiving in his house.

The U.S. courts have institutionalized these power relationships. The laui
for e:xample, supports dre nadidonal divjsion of labor in many states, mahng the
husba:rd Iegal\,responsible fr-rr supporting the family and tire wife legally responsible for maintaininr4 the house and rearing dre cliiidren. S\e is legally required

to follow her hushand if he moves; if she does not., she is considered to have
deserted hirn. Bur if she moves and her husband refuses to rnove v,rith her, she is
also considered to have deserted him (Leonard and Elias, 1990).
Legal and social suppor:t for ttre husband's control oi the fami\, has declined
since the 1920s and especially since the 1960s. An r:galimrian standard lor sharins power in farniLies has taken much of its place (Siennett, 1980). The wife u'ho
u,orks has especiallv gained more pou/er in the family. She has greater influence
in deciding farnily size arrd how monev is to be spe:nt.

Bc ta

hu'pirtucs tery hind,

Be to

hu'fn'uhs a lirth

blntd,

tr'l-,rrrseu, PRrOR ( 1664-1 7:

CHAPTER 5 1
J'lLe fornral and iecal sffucrure of marnage malies the male dominant, but
the realiq, of marriage mav be quite different. SociolosistJessre Bernard (1982)

malres an important distinction benveen authorifi/ and pou,er in marrirge.


Authority js based in larv, bur power is baseri in personaiini A strong, dominant
woman is likelv to exercise po\.\rer over a more passir-e inan simDir, bt. the force of
her personalin. and temperament.

If we
,o sec hor.r, po!\rer really *,orks
u.e rnust look
",rn,
beneath the stereoqpes, Wonren have considelabie pov,'er in marriage, aithough
they often feel that drey have less than they actuailr, do. Thev mav fail to reiognize the extent of their po\i/er; because cuirural norms theorer-icall1, pur power

,, *)rtrn..

in the hands of their hustrands, women mav looir at norms ,ath., rLrn

,i rhri,

own behavior. A woman may decide to work, even against her husband's wishes,
and she may determine hr,,v, to discipline rhe children. Yer she may feel that her
hLrsband holds fie power in the reiationship because he is supllsed to be dominant. Similarli', husbands r:fren l.,elieve that thev have more pou/er in a relation-

CttP

shrp tJral they 26tu211), do because rhey see onlv traditiqnai norms

E MMtt

POwer

an.d

omeno R htts rn yar y


power is a dlaramrc, mulddilnensional process (Szinovacz, i 987), fJeneraily speaking, no single individual is alwal,s the most pov,,erfrrl person jn even, aspect of
'.he family. Nor is powe r necessariiy always based on gender, age,
or r elarions;hip.
Power often shifts from person to person) depending on dre issLre.
Those who

wary the uuth ntust

According toJ.,P. French and Berarn Raven (1959), there are six bases of
marital povrer:

ineaitably bc warped nnd contryttd.


themselaes.

Aaruun &4rlrn

Cacrcit",e ltozrcr is basecl on the fear that one par:rner v,ill punisir the
other. (loercion can be emotional or phvsical. A patrern of beiittling,
threatening, or being ph),sjca] cap intilrjdate and threatr:n auo,;[er,
Thjs is the least colrlron form of po'er hr-rt rs usc,J in oarrrlcl- rape

or abuse.
Rewnrd pouer is based on rhe helief that dre odrer prrson v,ili do

somethins in rerurn for agreemetit, If, for exarnple,


)/our pitrmcr
attempts to understaud your leeiinqs about a specific issue, he or she
may ex?ect you lo do the same

Expert pouer is Lrar^ed on rhe belief thar the o$er has grearer l<no,r,ledge. If vou believe that your parmer hrs more wisdom about child

rearing, for instance, )/ou mali defer $e rer,lards, incentives, and dis,,:pline to him or her.
Legitinm.te poz.,er is based on acceprance of roles giving the other per-

son the right to dernand compliance. Gender roles ar.e an impor.rarrt


part of legitimaq/ as they give an aura to rights based on g.,,ti.,..

Ti-adidonai gender roles legirirnize maie jniriarion in dadns md


lemale acceptance or refusal riehts.
Rtfermt powc, is based on idendfnng ,r,ith rhe paftner and r,:cei,rng satisfacdon by acring similr'ly.. If you have grear respect ir your parnrerls

R
communicarion skiils, his or her ability to acrively listen, provrde feedback, and disclose in an honest manner, you are more likely to model

yourseif after him or

her.

lnformational powbr is based on the parmef's persuasive explanauon, If,


prtt .t refuses to use a condom, you can provide
for exarnple,
,uou,

jnformation abourthe prevalence and danger of STDs and NDS'

Relative l-ove and Need TheorY



Another way oflooking at the sources ofma ml poweris ttough the reladve i 1/pl
e
love and need dleory9 which explahs Power in terlns ofthe illdi dual invo

ToN

ment and needs in tte reladonship.Each Parmer brings certain resources,feel- 1

CHE00V(18611-190o

ings, and needs ro a relationship. Each may be seen as exchanging love,


.#prnionrhip, mone,v, help, and starus with the other, What each gives and
,...ir.r, hourerer, may not be equal. One parurer may be gaining more from the
reladonship than the other. The person gaining the most from the relationship is
(1970) observes:
the one *ho is most dependent. Constantina Safilios-Rothschild
The relauve degree.to which the cne spouse loves and needs the other may be the
mosr crucial variablt in explaining the totai power strutture. The spouse who has
r,elatively less feeling for the other may be the one in the best position to conuoland

nranipulate all the "resources" that he has in his command i-n order to effectively
inlluence the outcome of decisions.

Love is a major power resource in a relationship. Those who love equally


are
are likely to share'power equally (Safiiios-Rothschild, 1976)' Such couples
likely to make decisions according to referent, expert, and legirimate power.

Principle of [-east lnterest

to rcladvelove and nced as a wayof10ohngat poweris dleprinciple ofleast l JI

"

"'

g
,I %

interest,Sociologist l 11lard Lller o ller and Hill,19 1)COined dis term to l


desc be

dle cunous(andOlenllnPleasano Situadon in whichttepartnerwith the i

in continuing a reiationship has -.'he most pouer in it. Atjts 1os.f


exu:eme form, it is the suffof melodrama. "I will do anything you want, Charles,"
Laura says pleading$ throwing lierself at his feet. ",Just don't leave rie." "Anphing,

]east interesr

g g

g
g

com..runxs 1::i

house."
LaLrra?" he replieii,r,ith a leer. "Then give me the deed to your mother's
of least interest to their:
Quarreling couples trlay unconsciousiy use the princille

,drantrge. Theless involved partner rna's threaten to leave as leverage in an argu,,Iil right, if you dont dt ir my wa,v, I'm going." Th.e *rea1-may.be exn'emely
menr,
"coercing
a dependent paf[:]er. 11 may have litde effect, however, if it
powerful in
.on,r, frorn the defenrlent prrtn*i because he or she has too much to lose to be ,
persuasi'e. The less iornh.l parmer caneasi\'.i,]

r(ethinr<ing Famiiy Fower

|t^l' fl ,,, nuj h nynel,)-

f{.*'.|J4*r,'*[t',

,.frjfftQ,

it would
Even tirough women have conside.rtl. po*.t iifi'arriages and families,
As
wives'
be a serioui mi'rake ro overlook the inequaliries between husbands and
feminist scholars have pointed out, major aspec$ of contemporaW marriage point
to important areas *hlre women are cleariy subordinate to men: the continued
fernale responsibiliry for housework and child rearing, inequities in semal grati-

fication Gex is often over when the male has his orp;asm), the exlent of violelce
against \{iomen) and the sexual exploitation of chiidren are examp)es'

rin

CHAPTER 5

Feminist scholals suggest several areas tlat require further consideradon


'
(szinovacz
,
,1987). First, they beiieve that roo much emphasis has
placecl on
, the maritai relatio,sliip as the unit of analy5is. Initead, rheybeen
befieve rhar
, researchefs should explore the influence of rhg larger society on polver in mar_
, riage-specifically, the reladonship between the icial sffucture and u,oment
' position in marriage. Researchei's could exanrine, for exarnple, tire relati6ns6ip
, wornen s socioecononric disadvantages, such as lower pry ,n,t fcrver economicof
I opportunities than nien) to femaie plwer in rnarnlge.
In loae it is enough
b1t

lsrrn6,, qualities

to pha.w each othcr


an.d.

to be htppl, in marrioge

attt'tctian!; l)tff

it

i.r nercs.rar1, ts

laue each athds fault.s, ar at lcnst ta

adjust

tt

thcm.

Ntr;t t<lt,,ts Cll,vr,lt'onr

(.17

4l)-17 gq)

Second, these scholars argue that many of the decisions rhat researchers
study are rivial or insignificanr in measuring "real,, farni\, power.
Researchers

I
, cannot conclude that marriages are becoming more egalita.ian on the basis of
iornt decision makrng ahout such things ,, ,,h... , c"ouple gr.res for ,acadon,
,, whether
to buy a new c',r or appliance" or.'r,hich mo,ie to see. 'lhe critical
, decisio,s that measure po\r,er nre such iss;ues as hou,houser'r.,rli is to be
divided, who s[avs home with the c]rildrer, and v,hose
iob.r.carecr

rairer^

precedence.

Some scholars suggest that u,e shift the locus froin rnarital po\4rrr
to farnrlv
power. Resealcher.A{arjon liranrchfeld (1987) crlls fcr. a r:crhinliinq.
of porver.iir
a farniiy context. Even if wonicn s mlrjral po\,ver nlav
llot be equal tri rne;r s, e clifferent picrure of u,omen in farnilies n,ry .,.,r..g. if we examin.
purrm witirin the
entire family srrucrure, including prru,,,:i,-, r.elaijon ro chiklren. 'ihe
lamijl, l)ower
literature has radrtionally focusecl cin marria!e lntl rnariral decisign
,rr1uro
IGanichfeld, hou,ever, feels tirat sucli a lr.rcus narro\\'s,-rur.perceprign
of u,..,,,enh
power' Marriage is not familli she arg,ucrs, and it is ir rire larger iapiJy
nrarrir. rhut
women exert considerable poiver. -lheir powei rnry ror be the
srme as mlils
power, which tends ro be prirlarilv econon-'c, political, or rr:ligious.
Rsr ti Stouer
is defined as *e abiliq, ro ch.anse dre behar,iolr-ri ,orhcrs jnreidonall,, ,.,r,,,,,.,,
in facthave a gear deal o{po*'.r, of a verv funcianrerrr,rl riurl
pervasive, in facq thar
She

it is easilv c)\.erlr)oi{erj,,'

irervasii.c 1ranll-e, so

;iccor.din,g ro

iirunichfcld (19g7)

fur*rer observes;
Wometl

porver is rooted in tlreir lole as r.ulr't1ri-elrrj :rii,J l.:in1,ceper.s, lp,J


flor,,,s oLrl of
their capacin' to support and dii-ect the qrou,tlr of otirers ,.orr,,j

lile

b,t

,1.r., tlrrorrg)r t],.,:ir

course. \Aiomer's po,u,er r1l:1y hu,,e lolr,visiltilirl, from l nopFrnrill,oerspcctive,


wornen are the lyrch|i^s c,f rernir' cohesion and s,ciarizrtion.

Llb thougltt, LtamtL:cuc had powcr;tuc

Power versus lntinlacy

had wi.uhnn.

The p,obiem wlth porver imbaiances

St'rpuirN \,rr'Jcr-x'r BuNr, (I

U9U- I g4l

or: the blrrant use r_if


irolver is the neq.ative effect on inrirnacv. As ll.onald sampson (1966) obr..r,.s i"
his study of ihe
psychologv of po*er, "To the exrerlr ,hr, po*,., is the prevaili..{
force irL a

relationship-u'hetlier beriveen husl:and anj wife o, prr.r, and chillcl,


bcrrveen
friends or berq,een coileagues-ro that extert iove ii climinished.,,
If parrne,.s
are not equal, self-disclosure mav be inhibited, especially
if the pou,eiful per_
son believes his or her po\vcr will be Iessened irl, shrring feelings
(Glazer_
tr4albin, 1975). Genuine intjnacv appears to iequrre .qurliry
in pora,er
relationships, Decision mai.ng in t]re happi.r, n rriirg.,,..,r,io
be based
not on coercion or tit lcrr tat but on caring, n-iurualit1,, o,-,ld ,.r1r..t
for t]re other.
person. Women or nen v,l-ro feel rulnerable to their. ,r-,^r.,
orri, withhold i.eel_
ings or pretend to feel v,hat thev do not. LTnequal power
in marriage may
ercourage power politics. Each plrmer rnav sffugg]e with
rhe other ,o i,..p o,
galn po\\rer.

after they become


is not easv to change unequal power relationships
.:1.,b. chang'ed'
yet
embedded in the overall stircture'of a relationship;
Still, in affemptu,dersranding, and,egotiating are the best approaches'
Istrrng.r.nt or the breakup of a relationship. He

It

t.y

Aiil*

ing. changes, a person mav risk

;r"il

nirri *eigh the possible gairs against the possible

losses

in deciding

afiu'

The rerurn of understanding

ew4lxg(n,ent: Eaerything nntst

be l:t'etl.ted

with trndmtess at the begtnning


the rentm nny

sa

that

lead to und:rxandtng.

I CmNc

rvhether change is worth the risk'

A nutnber

of purcupines huddbd tagetber

for wamttb on a
because

in winrn"; but

cold' duy

tbey began to prick each othu'

with their quills, thry were obliged. to disperse.

Ilrurueti

the cold droitc thent

togetbo' aguin, whtn just the sann thing

happened.

At last, aftu'nu.ny tunu of

huddlin.g and disputing, thq' discaured

rhat thet would be bcn

off\'

at t. little dktance

entb othn',

ArrHrR

fi'nn

SCHOPEN'HALTR

(1

'

788-1 860)

,2

rcntltif ittg

,2

"r17

ANATOLE FMNcE(184 192o

We con leorn to use conflid' os o


woy to build ond deePen our
relotionships.

inrJividual and the relationship'

CI]APTER

Anger can be deak u.ifi in


*un g th;r
Anger

causes a

ntan to

be

far

ne

ds ro

#;il:

third wav: r(

iil: lJl #;::TJIffi

what is important is nor,enring or- suppressirig the


anfer
and eliminaring ir. David and \,'era l,,tr.. laOj rvrite:
lf

fnnt

the tnrth,

,:,iff;XT,?,,#il:;
iur

finding

i$

source

Iltstntc stnt.tc

lo131ict

The g'eatett thing n


tahe

fanrii

life h

Re301utiOln and 12rital Satisfhcti011

ltintu,hen a hint is intendcd-

and not to take a hint'whett a hini

iyt't

intended.

Roar,nr Fnosr

(l\i +1961)

Laae can be angy . . , a;ith a hinr)

nnger in uhtch thcrc


daae'.r and n,at the

no

af

gall, likc tltc

ratett'!.

Aucusrwr or Flrppo

(i 54-+l 0)

le ;t :

lh

el
10m LCI :
i

CI
71

.EachaskedfOrfurtherin10rlnat10ntOnlakesurethatheOrihe

phnwL m mmna
:
1
l
l lnCOnttast,unhaplDi marHed couJes displaFd tte 110111ngreciprOcJ Pattems:

1 0 C

"

"Each menlbcr Of the cOulDle cOniOnted the Otheri

hu'Ic

uI
wme
. ittd


eM
;

complained while tte Other v as deJien

Ref

le,- t in n s__

How do you handle conflrrt?


Whom do /ou patern your com-

;dm

&

OmttOm 0

km

Attachment s c(discussed in Chapters 4 and 10)seems to inttuencc the

munication patterns afterT Hor,,,

way conlict is exPressed in re12tiOnShiPs(Pistole,1989).In contast tO anx

does your sense of power irr a


relationship influence the way you

iOus/alnbivalent and avOidant adults,secure adults are

communicate and the way you


handie confl

ct'?

:
10re satisied il

their

orc likely tO cOmpronlisc than are



"

anxious/ambivalent adults,and an

ous ambivalent adults are more likely than l

avOidant adults to give in to thcir partners'wishcs,whether they agrcc with l


tllenl ol

not.

ilig.htine altiiut Ser and h4one1,


Even

ii as the Russian writer Leo Tolstcty suggested, every unhappy family is

All

hap14,

familie.r are

bapp.y

in thc snme

wtty. Earb unl:npp1, fnntily is unhtppl, nr


its own way.

Lro Tolsrtv

82

8-i

91

0),

l,vrur

we focuson tll,o areas: sex and money. Then we discuss generalways of resoh'

KttLqnN,t

ing conflicts.

Fighting about Sex


Fighdng and sex can be internvined in several different ways (Strong' and
1997). Acouple can have a specific disagreement about sex that leads
to a fight. One person v,ilnts to ir:rve sexual intercou-rse and the odrer does not,
jndirect fight about sex. The woman does
so theyr fight. A couple can have an
1.tot hai/e ,n orgrt,rr, and after intercourse, her partner rolls over and starts to

neVruti

snore. She lies in bed feeling angry and frustrated.

In dre ntorning

she begins

to fight with her partner over his not doing his share of the housework. The
houseu,ori< issue obscures why she is reallv angry. Sex can also be used as a
scapegoat for nonsexual problems. A liusband is angry that his wife calls him
a louq, provlder. He takes it out on her sexually by calling her a lousy lover.
They fight about their lovernaking rather than about the issue of his provider

rol., Aiorple can light about ti.e wrong sexual issue. Awoman mav berate
her partneifor heing too quicli during sex, but u'hat she is reallv frustrated
about is that he is not tnterested in oral sex lvith her. She, however, feels
ambivalent about oral sex ("Maybe I smell bad"), so she cannot confront her
par[ner with die real issue. Finally, a fight can be a cover-L]p. If a man feels

iex-ual\, ir:adequate and does nor wanr ro have sex as ofteii as his parmer, he
mal pick a figltt and make his partner so arrgry that the last thing she u'ould
want to do is to have sex witl-r hirn.
I:r power stmgq'les, sexualiry can be used as a u/eapon, but this is generally
a destruotrve tacdc (Szrnovacz,1987)'A classic sffategJ/ for the wealler person in

Follingstad I 987)

A word rs nat a tpan'ou. )n;e

it fl.ie:,

you can't catch it.

Russlw

pRrittnnn

lllg svt 0luily.r',!illing


uirhirr. a

littk

o.f

ta

fan,l

ltn'.scl7'e.r

hr.ppmu: nnd iL'l:cn.

yer'ruadc ousclues that

It may be useful to taik u'ith your parmer about why


the fighrc do not seeni to accomplish 2n,,'thing. Step bacli and iook at the cir.o*ri=^n.., of the fight;whatpafterns occur; and how each of vou feels before,
durinq, and aftel

the r mantal happiness (Bola d and

rnale-fernale sE rrggles, this is often sex' Bi' wifiholding sex' a woman gains a certain clegree of po*er. A small minolity of men also use sex in its most ttolent
forn',' They rape (inciuriins date rape and marital rape) to overpower and subor-

od"le. .erso,rs fcrr tl-re fighm.

with conflict resolutron both


reflects and periaps comnbures to

with rcpcatad cffirts wc cannot rcach it,

u hich a couple is currently fighdng. Are you and vour parmer fighung because
toLt want ,.* no*,and your partneir doesn't? Or ale thr:re deeler reasons involr'i,.,g po,".r, conrrol, fear, or inadequacy? If you repeated\,fight about semalissues
without getting a'nlwhere, the ostensihle causr malz e61be the realone' If fighting cloes-not .iea. the air'and make intimaq, possible again, you shouid look for

way in wnich a coL'ple ceals

a relationship il; t..i r.vithhold somethingthat the nlore powerful one wants. In

dinate *'omen. In rape, aggressive motivations displace serual ones'


it is harcl to tell durine a fight if there are deeper causes than the one about

-lre

a fight.

b1,

it

is inr:crcepted

an ill-pan'cd nr.atc sincc, if ua ruuLd

.fin.d any ather obxacle,

oun fault that it


S,cuuLL Jt)r,NsoN

it uould

bc orn'

wn.r n.ot remoued.


(1

700-1 i84)

cHAPTER 5
Money Conflicts
Againtt all the eaidrnce
man in

loae declaru

of hi.r rcnsu the

that

hc and his

beln,ed. are one, and b prepared to


behaue as

if it were a fax.

An old \lddish proverb addresses the problem of managing money qr:ire well:
"Husband and wife are the same flesh, bur they have difrerent purses." Money is
a major source of maljtdl conflict. Lrtimates differ about spending money probably

as

much as, or more than,

an1,

other single issue.

Src,r,luNo FREUD (l 856-l 939)

why People Fight about Money.

couples disagree or fight over money for a


number of reasons. one of dre most important reasons iras to do with power.
Earning wages has raditionally given men power in families. A woman's work in
the home has not been rewarded bywages, As

Some people are proud of

their handfa.l

ofjuxice and cotnmit oun'ages ogainst


all things for

its sahe.

till

the uorld is

drowncd in their injustice.

Fmorucu NrErzscHE (l 84+1 900)

result, full-ume homemakers irave


been placed in the position of having to depenci on their husbands for money, Lr
such an arrangement, if there are disagreements, the women is at a disadvantage.
a

If she is deferred to, rhe old clichd "I make the money but she spends it" has a birter ring to it. As women increasingly participate in dre workforce, however, power
relauons within families are shifting. Srudies indicate that women's influence in
financialand other decisions increases if they are employed outside the home,
Another major source of conflict is allocation of the family's income, Not
only does this involve deciding who makes the decisions but it also includes setting priorities. is it more imporrant ro pay a past-due bill or to buy a new television set to replace the broken one? Is a dishwasher a necessity or a luxury? Should
money be put aside for long-range goals, or should immediate needs (perhaps
drose your partner calls "whims") be sadsfied? Sening financiaiprioriries plavs on
each person's values and temperament;

it is affected by basic aspe*s of an indi-

vidual's personality. A miser ploba.biy cannor be happi\, married to

spendtlrrift.

linle of our partner's adrudes toward money before marriage


that a miser might very weli marly a spendthrift and nor knorv it until too late.

Yet we know so

Dating relationships are a poor indicator of how a couole will deaiu,ith money
matters in rnarriage, Dating has clearly defined mles abour money: Eirher the man
pays, both pay separately, or each pays alternarively. In dadng situations, each parc-

ner is financialry indgr.rdent of the orher, .Nloney is not pooled, as it usualll-is in


a committed parnrership or marriage. Power issues do not necessarily enter spend-

ing decisions because each person has his or her own money. Differences can be
smoothed out failiy easily, Both individuals are financiaLly independent before marriage but financialiv interdependent after maniage. Even cohabirarion mav nor be
an accurate guide to how a couple would dealwith mone1, in maniage, as cohabitoru generall), do not por.rl ali (or even part) of their income. It is the wcrrking our
of financial interdependence in marriage drat is often so difficult.

Talking about Money. Talling about money maners


Epitaph

mHnWife

Here lies n1 wife; hn'e let her lie,t


Nou

she's

And

so

at rert.

am I.

Jorur' Dr.rceN

(1

61 1-1 700)

is difficult, People are veq/

secretive about money. It is considered poor taste to ask people hou, much money
they make. Children often do not know how much money is earned in their families; sometimes spouses don't lcrow either. one woman remarked that it is easier
to talk u,ith a partner about sexual issues than about money matters: "Money is the
last taboo," she said. But, as with sex, our society is obsessed u.ith monev.
\.4/e find it difficult ro talk about money for several reasons. First of ali, v,e clon'r
lvant to appear to be uromaatic or selfish. If a couple is about to many, a discussion
of attitudes toward money may lead to disagreements) shatrering the illusion of unity
or selflessness. Second, gender roles mahe it diffictlt for wolnen to expreirs rher feei-

ings about money because women are traditionally supposed to defer to men in
financial mafters. Third, b..rur. men tend to ,rk. more money than women,
'ffomen feel that their right to disag'ee ahout financial matrers is limited. These feeliirgs are especialli, prevalent if the woman is a homemaker anci does not make a financial contribudon, bur they devalue her child-care and housework conniburions.

Resolving Conflicts

There are a number of ways to end conflicm. You can give in, but unless you
believe that the conflict ended fairl,v, you are likeliz m feel resenrful. You can try
t0 impose your will through the use of power, force, or the threat of force, but
using-power to end conflict leaves vour parmff with the bitter taste of injustice.
Iinaili', you can end the conflict through negotiation, In negotiation, both partners sit down and work out their differences undl they come to a murually acceptable agreernent. Conflicts can be solved through negotiation in three major ways:

Ctt R /ZJ

/Z

/7
Mo

Ds

K GANID

(1869-1948)

(1) agreement as a gift, (2) bargairung, and (3) coexistence'

Agreement as a Gift

Ifyou and youl parrner disagree on an issue, you can freely agree wi*i your partner as a gift. If you want to go to the Caribbean for a vacation and your parmer
wants to go backpacking in Alaska, vou can freely agree to go to Naska. An ageemenr as a gift is different frorn gir,rng in. When you g'ive in, you do somethingyou

Figure 5.2

Family Problemlsolving LooP


Jlow of daili' fam'ily eaenrs'
dynnmics ,tnd trattsition tnke uarious iorms, it is interesting to

Mwt furu.ily problem+oluhtg


Thou,gh

fumilt

ocrurs

in the

ebb and

R ef 1e cr

ldentificaiion of
the problem

Evatluation ot

Restatement or

action and
problern-solving

formulation
of goal

process

Assessment of

Action or
implementation
of alternative

TESOUTCES

Generatlon of

Selection of best

alternatives

alternatlve
Assessment of alternatlvr:s
SOURCE: Kieren, D.,T. O. Maguire, and N.

Hurlbut"i\ Marker Metlrod toTest

a Phasing Hypothesis in

(May 1996):442455.
Family Problem-solving lnteracrionJ'Journol of MorriogeandtheFornily 58,2
by
permission.
Used
Relations.
on
Family
Council
lrlational
the
1995
by
cooyright

How

realistic would this

model be if you introdu,:ed it to


your family?

How did (does) your family solve


problems?

note wlsich rypu ru.ight brizse releaunce fu'fanr,ily isnrcs.

io

CHAPTER 5

b, han'ed at anl
time. Han'ed ceuses hy loae. Thk is an

Ilanrd

docs 7x0t cearc

tLn.ahernble law.
Stoo,r,lrrt rir Gnur,r,r.ta.

rt.tl Bunpu,t

BFg

(c. 563-181 g.c.)

lL/ithout forgfuanus life ts gtaerued

. . . an

tlcle

endles.r

don't want to do. Vfhen you agree without coercion or threats, the agreement is
a gift of love, gtven freely without resentrnent. As in ali exchanges of gifts, there
will be reciprocation. Your parnrer will be more likely to give you a gift of agreement. This gift of agreeirnent is based on referent power, discussed earlier.

o.f

14,

resuttmettt and

ng
t

t
:
:

'
C

Bargaining means making compromises, but bargaining in relationships is different from bargaining in the markeplace or in politics. In reladonships, you
don't want to get the best deal for yourself but rather the most equitable deal
for both of you. At ailpc,ints during the bargaining process, you need to keep
in mind what is best for the relationship as well as for yourself, and you need
to trust your parmer to do the same. In a marriage, both parurers need to win.
The result of conflict in a marriage should be to solidify the relationship, not
to mal(e one partner the winner and the other the loser. To achieve your end
by exercising coercive pc,wer or withholding love, affection, or sex is a desffuc-

rataliation..
RoBERT AssACioLl

tive form of bargaining. If yc,u get what you lvant, how will that affect your
partner and the reladonshipi Will vour partner leel you are beine unfair and
become resentfuii A solution has to be fair to boti':, or it won't enhance the
relationship.

Coexistence
Alw

a1s

forgiu

aur enemi es- -noth in.g

o.nnqts them so ntu,ch.

Osc,ur

\4lt-pr

It doam't

(1

851-1900)

Sometimes differences can't be resolved, but they can be lived rvith,

If

a reladon-

ship is sound, differences can be absorbed without undermining the basic ties.
A-ll too often rve regard a difierence as a threat rather than as the unique expression of two personalities. Rather than being driven mad by the cap left off the
toothpasre, perhaps we can learn to live with it.

\/irtx,utcsr sruNc

I f you can't talli about what you like and what you \ rant, there is a good chance
Irhr, you won't get either one, Communicauon is the basis for g*d reladonships. Communication and intirracl, are reciprocal: Communication creaies

SOURCE: Reprinted

intimacl,, and intirnary, in turn, helps cleate good communication.


If we fail to comrnunicate, we are likely to turn our relationships into empry
facades, with each person acrins a role rather dran revealing his or her deepest
self. But communication is learned Lrehavior. if we have learned hazu not
comwe
can learn how ro communicate. Communicauon will allou, us to
nrunicate,
maintain and expand oulselves and ourrelationships

cost

anythingto hauc louitrg

speelt,

with special

permission of King Features Syndicate.

W
WAY FIRs w'H

OMPlE
O N

OK
FoO SH l

t, CunnunintionnndCunfliaRaolutiui

: ]

$p

CHAPTER 5

::
:
i
(the curvilinear

Researchers are finding that how well a couple


communicates before marriage can be an impor-

tant predictor of iater marital, satisfaction. Sef


marriage is related to
disclosure prior

satisfaction

to

rnaintain that a high level

(1)

maried couples

tal satisfaction, aldrough

(lio.n

it

entails greater risla

model),

the

belicfinidle rehabili7andhte

a person,For ttust to dev 10P,(1)arela16

,P
"of

more tlme
and

of

self-disclosure is related to a high level of mari-

relationship satisfaction later. Whether a couple's


premarital interactions are basically negative or
positive can also predict later marital satisfaction.
Research indicates that happily

modei).

, l

Itte
11
:

encode and decode

messages.

There are gender differences in partnership


communication. Wives tend to send clearer mesgive nEg-tra1 messages or
withdraw whereas wives tend to $ive more positive or negative messages. Also, wives tend to
sages. Hrr-sbands

ffi

set the emotional tone and escalate arguments


more than husbands do,
Communication includes both verba'l and nonverbal communication. The functions of nonverbai
communication are to convey interpersonal attitudes, express emotions, and handle the ongoing
interaction. For communication to be clear, r,erbal
anj ponverbal messages must agree. Proxintity, eye
contact, and touch are important forms of nonverbal communication. Levels of touching differ
between cultures and ethnic $oups.
\trginia Satir identified four styles of miscom-

are sub,elueidyl ldil d.

1111

ingie`ba kitanappr6plate

91 plillll

munication. Placaters are passive, helpless, and


always agreeable; blamers act superior, are often

not listen, and try to escape responsibiliqr; computers are correct, reasonable, and
expressionless; and disu'actors are frenetic and

angr1,, do

tend to change the subject.


Barriers to communication include tle traditional
male gender role (because it discourages the
expression of emotion); personai reasons, such as
feelings of inadequacy; and the fear of conflict. To

to be aware ofyour
own feelings. We prevent self-awareness fuough
suppressing, denying, and projecting feelings. A
first step toward self-aiuareness is realizing that'
our feelings are neither good nor bad but simply
express yourself, you need

emotional states.

vttdadtt and dadicadon,LTl

to inlluencc

`ris tllc abiLw or potendal abil

anotter person or group.Tradidonal

c nfrontatlon,coniontatiOn

legal as

vveS

appy cou eS use

iand defe giveness,

61,11 11
:
and complai lgattd dellsi,
MttOr SOurceS 6fconnittindluo l l aldl16nO,

well as de facto power.rested h ttc hands of dle

husband.Recend

have been galmng more

acmal powerin relad6nshipS,although the power

Conlic about` x

disttibutlon still relnains tLnequal.The six bases

about wtt h r9

cin b

sagree

Of lllarital power are coercive,reward,cxper

:lcdi,C diSlgreenleits

iCh 1

legitimate,referent,and informadonal powcr,


7alld thep7
Odler dleories of power include the

1
:1:

dadOn dttcdt,

i_

ofit

en anger al ises,l is use ,o

as a slgnal dlat change is ne,CSSa,1

1 1
Keylr S
fami
1911lQ
edbadk 149111:

gs
1

: :111l
Pa19,4,0,,
VrgntxT\New
Sqgt,
of
I ',
1

1 1Pegplentaleing.

|9v':ed'
'lnterpersonal
,CA: Sqience and Behavigf Bo9k, 198-8. Or,re of the most
Conmunticn.tion. Hillsdale, IrIJ: Lawrence
'
dilemconversarionll
of
A
discussion
Erlbaunl, lgg4.
,influential (and easy-to-read) bools of the last rwenq;
mas, distressed rnarital reiarionships, and ofier issues . , five,yelrilon cominuni&tlon'ana:iamib re,ltionffi,,it.1,

Cupach, \44 R., and B.

H. Spiuberg, eds.

The Darkside

Hecht, Michelle, Nlary Jane Collier, and Sidnry

1 11

'

Ribeau. I ,.,York:1{-a:rdom

trIquse,

,1995'

IsgiieS,,Sirch,as c'onf1ict,,, ,'

44'`I 1" ,

111

11 :


O luli`a 6: 1
hdudttg ettcd'e and ine,c

pattems.

Montagll, hley n%`

l :

if

NotaHu,,91

II1lHOW71141

::111

1=loHLmullill

::